Key Takeaways from NewComm Forum and Inbound Marketing Summit


I spent the early part of this week at the Society for New Communications Research's NewComm Forum (Twitter hashtag #sncr) and Chris Brogan's Inbound Marketing Summit (#ims09) held side-by-side in the same hotel (a wise move considering the challenge of getting people to attend conferences right now). As an enterprise social media practitioner, I got a tremendous amount of value from the speakers and presentations at both events, not to mention the connections I made with people facing the same challenges integrating social media into a large company's marketing communications.

I found early on the first day that I wasn't taking notes anymore, because I was posting everything I found valuable to my Twitter stream. In addition to driving away my last non-professional Twitter follower, it left me with a sackload of useful information, condensed into bite-sized nuggets and presented herewith. (I've expanded some for clarity.)

The volume of notes captured in each session is in no way indicative of the value of each, but is likely a reflection of any number of factors including the nearly incessant search for coffee, and frequent occasions of being distracted by smart people and shiny objects.
Top #sncr #ims09 memes

  • Your social media activities need to be tied directly to supporting your established goals and objectives.
  • If you don't have objectives, you can't measure.
  • If you trust your employees to talk to customers on the phone and in person, you can trust them to do it in social media.
  • For companies, social media is (are) about listening, not about talking.
  • We have yet to decide whether to say "social media is" or "social media are."
  • Conference promoters should provide wifi and enough power outlets for every attendee. And coffee.

Highlights of individual presentations:

You Shall Know Us By Our Dialtone: Presence in Business Communications with Chris Brogan (SNCR)

One presidential campaign knew how to find people and the other knew how to use dialtone phones.

When the community is mad at you, you don't have time for a carefully-crafted PR response. Respond immediately.

If your email is more than 200 words, has long paragraphs and isn't bulleted, Chris won't read it.

Customer service is the new PR. Be there before the sale. Offer better relationships up front.

Fast-paced generalists are the people who will "win the game," i.e. keep their jobs.

Build bridges, not islands. Embed social media in all departments and budgets. Tie it back to existing metrics.

"Bring them wine." Give people something they want for free.

"We're always going to do it wrong. Through righteousness comes the opportunity to find a better middle." (Response to a question about disputes and controversy in the community about commercial uses of social media.)


"Things That Go Bump In the Night" with SNCR Sr. Fellows Joseph Thornley and J.D. Lasica with Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester and Amy Muller, GetSatisfaction (SNCR)

Most students Thornley talks to are only on Facebook, the "lightest, dumbest" form with the lowest levels of connection. They haven't moved on to Twitter or other forms of social media.

Companies should respond to attackers by being human. Never be defensive. Set the record straight in a human way, says Muller.

We must stand up publicly for social media standards of behavior and support others against unfair attacks, says Thornley.

Brand Ambassadors Defined with Geno Church of Brains on Fire (SNCR)

Build sustainable brand ambassadors who believe in the brand and have experienced the value firsthand.

Brand ambassadors are built on passion.

Movements empower people with knowledge. Fiskars provides three days of training to new brand ambassadors (Fiskateers).

Movements encourage ownership. Fiskateers own their program and organize themselves. The brand provides support.

Movements make advocates/members feel like rock stars. Fiskateers receive their own scissors with a unique number.

Movements and the communities that support them live online as well as off. Bring people together in real life.


Convincing the Curmudgeon with Charlene Li (IMS)

Make social media real for the curmudgeon, not just technology.

Make sure the social media evangelists in your organization have the tools and data to talk to the skeptics.

Talk to the curmudgeon in terms of how social media can support your established corporate goals.

If you participate in social media you are bound to fail at some point. Who has perfect relationships?


Twitterville: Exploring the Impact of Micro-communications Tools with SNCR Fellows Shel Israel & Laura Fitton, moderated by Charlene Li (SNCR)

Social media ROI according to Laura: time wasted in status meetings alone justifies microblogging to share that kind of info.

Q: What's the business utility of Twitter? A: What's the business utility of email?

Twitter is a tool, says Shel Israel. What's the ROI of a hammer?

Social Media and Crisis Communications Revisited with SNCR Senior Fellow Shel Holtz

Everybody with a camera phone and a Twitter account is now a photojournalist.

The 100% illusion: Nobody thinks all your customers are happy all the time, so don't bother filtering the negative.

The New Organization Landscape for Marketing Communications with 2008 SNCR Fellow Brian Solis

Who owns social media in organizations? It shouldn't be about who wants to lead it, but who is capable.

Public relations isn't just about the media anymore. Social media is putting the "public" back in public relations.

We talk about the cool new stuff like Twitter but Google and Yahoo groups still have huge influence.

Digital Anthropologist (new job description Brian proposes) listens to conversations and understands the community culture so you know how to respond.

Even in the recession, Brian is asked every day for recommendations to fill social media jobs.

New roles: Digital Anthropologist, Strategist, Community Manager, Research Librarian and Support Team.

Don't waste time cultivating a community where your audience isn't even collaborating. Brian says he's talked people out of Twitter and Facebook because it wasn't relevant to their audience.

"Companies will earn the relationships they deserve."

Understanding Facebook Culture and How Facebook Users Relate to Corporations Online with SNCR Fellow Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu

Dr. Vorvoreanu shared the results of focus groups she'd conducted with around 35 students from Clemson University.

Most important lesson: Know your audience.

College students are sad/angry/disappointed that Facebook was opened to the general public.

Facebook is a "digital hangout" for building personal relationships, so students thought it was odd that corporations were there.

Students cling to separation of personal/professional/family/commercial life. "Being facebooked by a corporation would be freaky," they said.

Students were eager to connect with small, independent businesses on Facebook, but not corporations. Unless there's a coupon.

Students mistrust corporations' motives for being on Facebook, and don't feel they can have an open dialog with a corporation.

Students think it's cool when corporations interact on Twitter, but that effect doesn't apply to Facebook.

Seven keys to interacting with young people on Facebook:

  1. Provide a sense of exclusivity.
  2. Recognize the concept of a "digital hangout" and give them ways to engage with their friends.
  3. Enable "self presentation" by allowing users to align with your product or company.
  4. Keep it personal. Again, being friended by a corporation is "freaky."
  5. If you're a small, independent business, you should definitely be on Facebook.
  6. Respect the users' space. For certain users, the best way to respect their space is by staying out of the conversation.
  7. Big corporations can create a "positive violation" (confounding expectations in a positive way) just by conforming to Facebook's norms, i.e. not being stupid.

Some of the presentations already online:

More to come, I'm sure.

•    The New Media Consumer Revealed, Edison VP Tom Webster
•    There is No Information Overload, Louis Gray
•    Convincing the Curmudgeon, Charlene Li



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  1. Christine Fife on

    Thanks for the recap. Followed much of the #s on Twitter as I wasn't able to attend.
    Was hoping to hear more mention of conversation marketing and how social media is being used by companies as a new channel for engaging with influencers, customers, prospects, etc. There are pockets of marketing's market conversation talking about moving away from this quickly siloing view of "social media marketing" and the proliferation of smam (social media spam) that is happening and moving toward understanding where companies should join in the entire market conversation. Did you happen to hear anything more specific about this at the events?
    Not all social media tools are right for all companies and too many companies are using social media to simply post their marketing bullet points in new places. Real market conversations happen both on and offline (just as they were happening offline at these events, but the recaps are making it online now) and companies need to consider which conversation locations are right for them and what is the most beneficial way to participate.

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